Smartphones make life easier. They allow you to contact anyone anywhere. Find a nice coffee shop, check what time the bus leaves- everything is so accessible. But phones don’t have notjusthad a positive impact on our existence. Anyone who has ever stared at a screen for hours on end knows: it doesn’t make you feel […]
Smartphones make life easier. They allow you to contact anyone anywhere. Find a nice coffee shop, check what time the bus leaves- everything is so accessible. But phones don’t have notjusthad a positive impact on our existence. Anyone who has ever stared at a screen for hours on end knows: it doesn’t make you feel any better. It’s a bit like finishing a bag of crisps. You know it’s not good for you, but you continue until you let the last crumbs slide straight out of the bag and into your mouth. Then you think: was that really worth it? The same thing happens when you have just spent ages scrolling through social media, news sites and gossip blogs.
This uneasy feeling doesn’t come from nowhere. In his book ‘Digital Minimalism’, professor of computer science Cal Newport discusses a number of studies, which show that social media can make you insecure. Do you have as much fun in life as your friends? And that’s not all: the fact that you can always be reached through your mobile phone often gives you a restless feeling. The overload of information that a smartphone offers also isn’t great for your concentration. The multitude of news articles can make you feel anxious, just like the aggressive tone of internet discussions.
Despite these consequences, the smartphone has an irresistible lure. Who knows? You might find an uplifting message or funny video. This causes a shot of dopamine in your brain, which gives a good feeling. A dopamine injection also occurs when someone likes one of your photos. This makes you want more, making you post online again and keep scrolling. As you know, smartphones are addictive.
The question is how to get rid of this dependence. Newport advises you to limit your digital life to the essentials for one month. Of course, you want to be contactable for work, family and close friends. But he advises stopping with the rest. This means no social media and no online series or news. But don’t panic – after that month you can go back to them. It is important to think about what you want to do with your free time before you begin your digital detox. Do you want to visit friends more often? Take a Spanish course? Exercise? Choose things that are important to you.
Newport writes that many people suffer from withdrawal symptoms. They can’t see what the Kardashians are up to while they’re waiting in the checkout queue, for example. But those who do persist discover how nice it is to stare out of the window on a train journey or read a book. That it’s nice to spend time with friends in person. Of the people who keep up the digital detox for a month, only a few want to return to their old habits.
The thinking behind the detox month is that you rediscover the things that you value. After that, Newport states, it is easier to make better decisions about your internet use. For example, you could decide to spend up to ten minutes a day on Facebook, because you’ve experienced that meeting up with close friends face to face makes you happier. Or you could decide to leave your phone at home more often, so you can fully enjoy doing something.
In short, you use digital resources exactly as you want to. Digital minimalism – that’s what Newport calls it. If you think the temptations would be too great for you to have a successful detox, start by going on a holiday. Google (it’s still allowed) “digital detox holidays” and you will find plenty of places to go to with no signal or wifi. You can’t put any holiday photos on Instagram, but your digital detox will get off to a flying start.
Five top destinations for a digital detox holiday
Go on safari through Botswana and you won’t miss wifi for a second. The elephants, lions and giraffes will take care of that.
The vast Patagonia landscape has unprecedented biodiversity. Take it all in from the beautiful Bahia Bustamante Lodge and simply disconnect.
3 The Faroe Islands
This archipelago between Norway and Iceland is the ideal place to hike through unspoiled nature and forget your phone.
4 Cape Range
In this Australian national park you’ll find Sal Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, a remote safari camp and a great base from which you can explore the park’s reef and wildlife.
The Sheldon Chalet is situated on a glacier and is only accessible by helicopter. It goes without saying: there’s no signal, so you can make the most of the wonderful views.